03 November, 2013

Dining With The Young Atheists

I don't always dine with strangers half my age but when I do, I like to dine with the young Kanawha Valley atheists. 

Last night I was reminded of why. I mentioned the work of Robert Axelrod and the topic of game theory to a Calvinistic, fundamentalist friend and she asked me to explain it in a few words if I could. Well, I couldn't do it in a few words so I found a short YouTube and sent her the link. According to my fundamentalist friend, Axelrod's work had already been revealed in the Bible where there is nothing new under the sun. Her subsequent remarks demonstrated that she had entirely missed the point of Axelrod's game theory work. Her belief that the Bible contains all truth had immunized her from infection by what fundamentalists call "man's wisdom".

Most of my old friends are of the inoculated-against-extra biblical-things variety so it's nice to go have dinner with the young atheists where I can discuss politics or current events or any other topic without someone ruining the whole conversation with sentences that begin, "Well, my Bible says...." .There were three physicists at the table last month and not one of them ever destroyed a perfectly good conversation by citing  the Bible. 

My regular readers sometimes complain to me that I don't reveal much personal information in my blog, that I am sort of the exact opposite of Charleston Gazette columnist,  Karin Fuller, who tells us way more than we want to know about not only herself but whoever she happens to be dating of married to at the moment but here's something just a little personal: on my way to these dinners with the young atheists I listen to my collection of 1970s and 80s contemporary Christian and "Jesus Rock" CDs. Yeah, I recently dug them out of storage because I hadn't listened to them in decades and because some of the artists are genuinely great musicians. Daniel Amos, Larry Norman, Love Song, Phil Keaggy. With the exception of smells, nothing else puts me in a time machine aimed at my embarrassing past like music so when I arrive at the designated restaurant where I will dine with the young atheists of the Kanawha, I am humbly reminded that I am a former writer for Christian magazines, a former Bible College student, a former Calvinist preacher and that I, too, used to be the kind of person I wouldn't want to engage in conversation.

Most of the young atheists with whom I sometimes dine tell me that they have been atheists for as long as they can remember. I envy them. They've spent a lifetime being curious and open-minded. But I still think Phil Keaggy is as fine a rock guitarist as Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix or Eric Clapton and that Daniel Amos' "Horrendous Disc" and "Alarma" albums were really cool if you don't think about the Jesus lyrics.  
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